Commentary

Minnesota’s long tradition of earthcare

This church and its members should take public action which protects, restores, and enhances the natural and the specifically human environments. This church should involve decision-makers in government and industry in faith-and-life dialogues to enable them to share insights into the crucial ecological issues which they face.

Lutherans from many congregations around the state have been meeting with their elected leaders to talk about Minnesota’s energy future.

Brenda Wagner

Does this statement sound timely? When I read it, I thought perhaps the sentences were written recently. But the statement is actually from a Lutheran Church in America (LCA) statement, “The Human Crisis in Ecology,” made in 1972 (http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Predecessor-Body-Statements/Lutheran-Church-in-America/Ecology.aspx). Even before the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was formed in 1988, its predecessors were engaged in meaningful dialogues with legislators regarding concerns about connections among climate change, our energy choices and human health. Nearly 40 years of care for creation has helped shape the Lutheran response to global climate change and has impacted the actions of the ELCA and its members (http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Social-Statements/Environment.aspx).

The Northeastern Minnesota Synod, ELCA, continues this journey of creation care. On December 7, around 350 people gathered at Trinity Lutheran in Princeton and on December 8, nearly 250 people gathered at St. Andrew’s Lutheran in Grand Rapids to listen to polar explorer Will Steger and J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director for Fresh Energy. The Rev. Chris Manisto in Princeton and the Rev. Tom Aitken, bishop of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod, in Grand Rapids provided a faith-based perspective. The speakers shared the realities of global climate change and explored the relationship between our faith response and our political actions in confronting the myriad problems of dirty fossil fuels, lack of government regulation on many pollutants, the need for renewable sources of energy, and the lack of necessary urgency in addressing these problems.

God’s creation and an energy eschatology

I’m proud to be a member of the ELCA. We have been at the epicenter of faith and public policy for a long time. For 25 years the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota has been working with all six of the Minnesota ELCA synods “to promote public policy that supports peace, justice, and care for all of God’s creation.” And the Minnesota synods and the Women of the ELCA groups have passed nine resolutions supporting environmental stewardship.

Lutherans from many congregations around the state have been meeting with their elected leaders to talk about Minnesota’s energy future. The work of the ELCA was very helpful in the establishment in 2007 of state energy savings goals and science-based climate goals. The legislative strides we have taken show care for our lakes, forests, fields and, most importantly, people. In the 2012 legislature, there may be attempts to roll back Minnesota’s clean energy progress.

Now is the time to continue Minnesota’s leadership role remembering that our God calls us to care for the air and water on which life depends. Let us build on our past success and address difficult issues for the sake of all God’s children in the world.

Brenda Wagner is a member of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, where she also serves as education coordinator. She is in her first term as synod vice-president of the Northeastern Minnesota Synod. She and her husband Mark also serve as synodically authorized lay ministers at Tri-United Parish in Bovey, Warba, and Jacobson, Minnesota. Mark is in the TEEM program at Wartburg Seminary.

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